Administration discusses new ideas, initiatives

The Newtonite

by Jared Perlo
Student Faculty Administration members kicked off their legislative year by discussing a spectrum of issues, ranging from the creation of a student union in the cafeteria to expanding the radius of this school’s smoke-free zone.
The creation of the student union or hangout spot is being kicked off with a design contest, submissions for which need to fit SFA-regulated guidelines.
In its first meetings, the SFA mainly focused on how the body itself operates and what could be improved to make the passage of bills more efficient.
Last year, the SFA got bogged down by an occasional lack of student participation and lack of cooperation and consequently could not focus on school-wide issues. Current SFA members sought to remedy the lack of participation by creating small groups within the SFA, each of which was tasked with discussing a school policy.
The body has become significantly more productive as a result of this rumination. Many policy changes have been put on the table this year, including the possibility of expanding this school’s smoke-free zone and possibly restructuring the tone system. Students advocated for expansion of the no-smoking zone, while administrators conveyed the reality of the situation.
Adams housemaster Jamie D’Orazio ultimately said expanding the smoking-ban area would be incredibly hard to supervise.
In addition, “If we push the smokers out, the neighbors push them right back in,” D’Orazio said.
After senior Caleb Bromberg was elected as student co-chair, members discussed the creation of a student union or hangout spot, and began discussions on possible changes to policies on study halls and cancelled classes.
Although still in the midst of discussions, the student union area will be part of the inside nook of the cafeteria which is adjacent to the College and Career Center.
“It would give people a destination, rather than roaming the hallways and overpopulating the library,” said Bromberg.
Despite its gradual progress, the prospective student union has faced some challenges.
One of the student union’s main objectives is to draw students away from the Library Learning Commons to prevent overcrowding.
Senior Lucia Grigoli expressed concerns that the union would not be a popular destination for upperclassmen when they could go to library to socialize instead.
Even though some members have been skeptical about the union’s odds of success, most agreed that the hangout area would be a welcome respite from the hectic school day.
Junior Winston Huang noted that “this place will not only be for educational purposes, it will have social purposes too.”
A design contest initiative for the student union was unanimously approved Wednesday, Dec. 14.
The contest allows faculty members, students and parents to submit designs of the student union using an SFA-approved template, which can be found in the Library Learning Commons.
The student union has a budget of $3,000, which the PTSO raised.
The designs must be origional and create a stress-free environment where students can relax, socialize, have fun and show school spirit. The proposal shoud also respond to the competition’s objectives as laid out in the brief and be presented in a clear manner, the rules state.
All designers must submit their designs on or before Sunday, Feb. 12, librarian Kevin McGrath said. Entrants will not be allowed to edit any project details or files once they have been submitted to the jury.
After SFA members vote to choose a winner, principal Jennifer Price said the SFA will award the designer a $100 prize, sponsored by Whitsons Culinary Group and the PTSO.
Meanwhile, another committee has been focused on improving study halls and canceled classes, for the past couple weeks.
The SFA has discussed a school policy that states that sophomores are not able to travel off campus during their second semester cancelled classes.
Price said the main goal in this longstanding policy is to alleviate the crowding of the Library Learning Commons from students who have cancelled classes.
Another one of the committee’s discussion topics is the availability of laptops for students in study halls. However, there are not enough laptops for all of the school’s needs.
Parent and PTSO member Claudia Wu suggested that the SFA apply for funding from the Newton School Foundation’s technology initiative to receive extra laptops for study halls.